Tag Archives: North Salem Luxury Real Estate

Dreamy rooftop garden | North Salem Real Estate

The garden will be open to neighbors

All photos by Hiroyuki Oki via Designboom

Never ones to shy away from throwing in alltheplants, Vietnamese architecture firm  Vo Trong Nghiatakes the roof terrace to the next level in this new home in Nha Trang, Vietnam. The firm, working in collaboration with architect Masaaki Iwamoto, made the most of local construction rules—which required a sloped roof that’s at least half-covered in grey or terracota tiles—by creating a dreamy stepped garden brimming with all sorts of flowers, trees, and shrubbery.

The living spaces underneath are like an extension of the garden. Built around airy, vegetated interior courtyards, the living, dining, and bedrooms feel breezy and lush. The polished wood plank floors, white brick walls, and high ceilings certainly also help bring in as much light as possible.



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Existing homes sales surge | North Salem Real Estate

Existing home sales, as reported by the National Association of Realtors (NAR), surged 14.7% in December, including an increase in the first-time buyer share to 32%, the highest share since August. December sales snapped back from a November decline partially attributable to delays in closings from the rollout of the Know Before You Owe mortgage disclosure rule by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). The new rule was designed to help consumers understand their loan options and avoid closing cost surprises. Total existing home sales in December increased to a seasonally adjusted rate of 5.46 million units combined for single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, up from 4.76 million units in November. December existing sales were up 7.7% from the same period a year ago.

Existing Home Sales December 2015

Existing sales increased in all regions, ranging from 8.7% in the Northeast to 23.2% in the West. Year-over-year, all regions increased, ranging from 4.6% in the South to 11.9% in the Northeast.

Total housing inventory decreased by 12.3% in December, and is 3.8% lower than its level a year ago. At the current sales rate, the December unsold inventory represents a 3.9-month supply, down from a 5.1-month supply in November. Some 32% of homes sold in December were on the market for less than a month.

The distressed sales share decreased to 8% in December from 9% in November. Distressed sales are defined as foreclosures and short sales sold at deep discounts. The December all-cash sales share decreased to 24% from 27% in November and 26% in December 2014. Individual investors purchased a 15% share in December, down from 16% in November and 17% a year ago.

The December median sales price of $224,100 was 7.6% above last December, and represents the 46thconsecutive month of year-over-year increase. The median condominium/co-op price of $209,900 in December was up 4.9% from last December.



Homeowners Still Overvalue their Homes | North Salem Real Estate

Average appraised values in December were 1.8 percent lower than homeowners’ opinion of their home’s value, marking the 11th straight month when appraised values were lower than homeowners expected, although the gap between the two values has narrowed since August.

The Quicken Loans’ national Home Value Index (HVI) – a measure of home values based on recent appraisals used in to refinance mortgages – showed that home values continuing to climb in December. Appraised values increased a modest 0.18 percent from November, but have risen a steady 5.81 percent since December 2014 and 3.8 percent since the beginning of the year.quickenn

Appraised values continued to fall below homeowner estimates in December. On average, appraiser opinions were 1.8 percent lower than the value homeowners expected, according to the national HPPI. Many of the metro areas studied also showed perception moving closer to equal. Appraisals remained higher in Western cities, while homeowner expectations topped appraised values in many of the Northeastern and Midwestern cities examined.

“The narrowing of the perceived vs. appraisal value gap is an excellent way to end the year,” said Quicken Loans Chief Economist Bob Walters. “The more homeowners are in line with appraisers, and understand the equity in their home, the easier it will be to refinance their mortgage. In the same vein, if homebuyers understand how the local market is performing, they will be better equipped to come in with a strong offer on the home of their dreams.”


Appraisals remain a significant cause of delay or termination of sales contracts.  Of all contracts settled or terminated, financing, appraisal, and home inspection issues were the major problems: 18 percent had financing issues, 13 percent had home inspection issues, and 11percent had appraisal issues, said the National Association of Realtors in its October Realtor Confidence Index.


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Housing Construction Trends Heat Up in June | North Salem Real Estate

Total housing starts expanded 9.8% month over month in June, reaching a 1.174 million annual starts pace, which was led by a surge in multifamily development.

Single-family starts were effectively flat, recording a 0.9% monthly decline to a 685,000 seasonally adjusted annual rate but were up 14.7% year over year. As measured on a three-month moving average, the pace of single-family starts hit a post-recession high in June. Looking forward, single-family permits were up 0.9% for June and 6% year-over-year, reaching a 687,000 annual rate. Regionally, single-family starts were up 6.8% for the month in the South, but down 27.3% in the Northeast, 7.1% in the West, and 4% in the Midwest.

Pointing to future growth, the July NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index reached 60 in July, which is the highest level since November 2005. Two of its three components also rose to levels last seen in late 2005. The index of current sales rose one point from the June level to 66, the highest in 10 years. The index for expected sales rose two points from June’s 69 to 71, also the highest in almost 10 years. The index for traffic fell one point to 43 from the six-month high in June of 44.

And more good news from June: The National Association of Realtors measure of existing home salesexisting home sales increased 3.2%, reaching the highest level since February 2007. Given that most new home sales are to move-up buyers, a rise in the volume of existing sales bodes well for additional single-family construction. Inventory of resale homes continues to be limited, falling to a five-month supply in June as the current sales rate.

However, the standout of the June housing starts report was multifamily construction, which for units in buildings with five or more units climbed to a 476,000 annual rate with a 28.6% monthly growth rate. Permits also expanded greatly, jumping 16.1% to a 621,000 annual rate. NAHB expects this level of apartment development to cool in the coming months.

On the supply side of the market, the most recent Producer Price Index data from the BLS revealed a small increase for wood products in June after trending down for the start of 2015. Softwood lumber prices rose 1% for the month but are down 9.1% from a recent high in September 2014. Prices for OSB rose 2.4% in June after a 20.4% slide that followed the collapse in prices that ended in July 2013. Gypsum prices slipped 1.5% in June after being flat in May, increasing to 5.3% the retreat from a February peak.

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CoreLogic: May home prices rose 6.3% nationally | North Salem Real Estate

May home prices nationwide, including distressed sales, increased by 6.3% in May 2015 compared with May 2014, according to the home price report from CoreLogic(CLGX).

This change represents 39 months of consecutive year-over-year increases in home prices nationally. On a month-over-month basis, home prices nationwide, including distressed sales, increased by 1.7% in May 2015 compared with April 2015.

“Mortgage rates on 30-year fixed-rate loans remained below 4% through May, helping to fuel home-purchase activity,” said Frank Nothaft, chief economist for CoreLogic. “Our homes-for-sale listing data shows that markets with high demand and limited supply, such as San Francisco, are recording double-digit appreciation rates over the past year.”

Including distressed sales, 33 states and the District of Columbia were at or within 10% of their peak prices in May 2015.

Ten states and the District of Columbia reached new price peaks not experienced since January 1976 when the CoreLogic HPI started. These states include Alaska, Colorado, Iowa, Nebraska, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas and Vermont.

Click to enlarge

(Source: CoreLogic)

Excluding distressed sales, home prices increased by 6.3% in May 2015 compared with May 2014 and increased by 1.4% month over month compared with April 2015. Excluding distressed sales, only Massachusetts (-2%) and Louisiana (-0.2%) showed year-over-year depreciation in May. Distressed sales include short sales and real estate-owned transactions.

The CoreLogic HPI Forecast indicates that home prices, including distressed sales, are projected to increase by 0.9% month over month from May 2015 to June 2015 and by 5.1% on a year-over-year basis from May 2015 to May 2016. Excluding distressed sales, home prices are projected to increase by 0.8% month over month from May 2015 to June 2015 and by 4.7% year over year from May 2015 to May 2016.

The CoreLogic HPI Forecast is a projection of home prices using the CoreLogic HPI and other economic variables. Values are derived from state-level forecasts by weighting indices according to the number of owner-occupied households for each state.

“The rate of home price appreciation ticked up in May with gains being fairly widely distributed across the country. Importantly, higher home prices over the past couple of years have spurred increases in new single-family construction,” said Anand Nallathambi, president and CEO of CoreLogic. “Sales of newly built homes during the first five months of 2015 were up 23% from a year ago, and as rising values build equity for homeowners, we expect to see more existing homes offered for sale in the coming year.”


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New Single-Family Home Size Increases at the Start of 2015 | North Salem Real Estate

The typical size of newly built single-family homes increased at the start of the year. The trend of increasing new home size leveled off in 2014, but new home size increased during the first quarter of 2015 with a decline in the volume of construction. As first-time buyers return to the market, typical home size is expected to trend lower.

According to first quarter 2015 data from the Census Quarterly Starts and Completions by Purpose and Design and NAHB analysis, median single-family square floor area increased from 2,445 in the fourth quarter of last year to 2,521 square feet. Average (mean) square footage for new single-family homes increased from 2,677 to 2,736 for the first three months of the year.

SF size_1Q15

On a less volatile one-year moving average, the recent trend of leveling home size can be see on the graph above, although current sizes remain elevated. Since cycle lows and on a one-year moving average basis, the average size of new single-family homes has increased 13% to 2,678 square feet, while the median size has increased 18% to 2,477 square feet.

The post-recession increase in single-family home size is consistent with the historical pattern coming out of recessions. Typical home size falls prior to and during a recession as some homebuyers cut back, and thensizes rise as high-end homebuyers, who face fewer credit constraints, return to the housing market in relatively greater proportions. This pattern has been exacerbated in the last two years due to market weakness among first-time homebuyers.


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Producer Prices in February – Falling Prices, Except for Gypsum | North Salem Real Estate

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released the Producer Price Indexes (PPI) for February. Inflation in prices received by producers (prior to sales to consumers) declined 0.5% in February. The decline was dominated by a decline in prices for services and within services prices for trade, transportation and warehousing. Prices for goods also declined led by falling food prices. Energy prices leveled off in February after declines accelerated through the second half of last year and reached -10.3% in January.

Softwood lumber prices declined 1.6% in February. The Random Lengths Framing Lumber Composite Index points to further declines in March. Analysts point to softer than expected US single family construction in 2014, inventory management on the part of distributors, and softening overseas markets as factors. Additional declines will be tempered going forward by possible log shortages and continuing transportation bottlenecks.

Prices for OSB declined 2.9% after modest upticks in the prior three months. The return of mothballed capacity since 2013 has supply outpacing demand. Random Lengths indicates additional declines in March. The PPI for OSB indicates a 46% decline from the price peak in March 2013.

Prices for gypsum jumped 3.9% in February after a 4.3% increase in January reaching an all-time high. Gypsum prices are now 5.4% higher than their 2006 housing boom peak while single family housing starts remain depressed at roughly half the normal level of production.

blog ppi 2015_03


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Real Estate Markets Tiptoe Toward Stability | North Salem Real Estate

Freddie Mac’s proprietary MiMi index, which uses data on mortgage repayments and local economic conditions to track markets against their ‘long-term stable range”, reports that national MiMi value stands at 74.9, indicating a weak housing market overall but showing a slight improvement (+0.37%) from November to December and a positive 3-month trend of (+1.09%).

On a year-over-year basis, the U.S. housing market has improved (+4.41%). The nation’s all-time MiMi high of 121.7 was April 2006; its low was 57.2 in October 2010, when the housing market was at its weakest. Since that time, the housing market has made a 31 percent rebound.

The U.S. housing market continues to stabilize at the national level for the fourth consecutive month. Thirty-eight of the 50 states, plus the District of Columbia, and 40 of the 50 metros, are now showing an improving three month trend. Three additional metros entered their benchmarked stable ranges of housing activity including Buffalo, Boston and Nashville.

“Housing markets are getting back on track. The national MiMi improved for the fourth consecutive month. Nearly 80 percent of the state and metro housing markets MiMi tracks are improving or in their stable range of activity. We’ve even seen the MiMi purchase application indicator increase 0.07 percent on a year-over-year basis. Low mortgage rates and moderating house price growth are helping to keep payment-to-income ratios favorable for the typical family in most of the country. In fact, Los Angeles is the only metro market with an elevated MiMi payment-to-income indicator whereas most other markets remain quite affordable. And of course, labor markets are generally improving,” said Freddie Mac Deputy Chief Economist Len Kiefer.


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Historic snows causing headaches for real estate industry | North Salem Real Estate

All that snow in New England may make your property look as pretty as a calendar shot, but it won’t do you any favors if you’re trying to buy or sell a house.

The storms that have dropped an epic 8 feet of snow are causing grief for the real estate industry.

Some real estate agents have had to cancel nearly a month of weekend open houses because of the poorly timed snowstorms. Others have had to brace prospective buyers about to tour homes showing the ravages of winter, including leaky walls and ceilings caused by a buildup of ice on the roof.

Agents complain that deals are being held up because inspectors are unable to get a look at roofs, septic tanks and other features buried under mounds of snow and ice.

And sellers are grumbling about how difficult it is to move out of their homes in the treacherous weather.

“Honestly, every day is a new issue,” said Kate Lanagan MacGregor, a real estate agent in Mattapoisett, as she rattled off some of her recent struggles. Her latest: trying to empty a newly sold house of the furniture her company had used to “stage” the place for prospective buyers.

“Usually, you can just run up and grab your furniture. Now, the driveway’s not plowed, there’s no path shoveled and you can’t physically get your stuff out the door,” she said.

Homeowner Abbie Cregan recounted her ordeal moving out of her longtime home in Fairhaven just days earlier.

“We were literally pulling washers, dryers, furniture sets out of the house with a dolly and a strap and dragging them through the snow,” she said from her new home in snow-free Phoenix, Arizona. “I still have bruises from it.”

Jeremy Madore said he and his wife are closing on a four-bedroom home in Leominster that they found just weeks ago, in the throes of the snowstorms. He said a home inspector had to clear away a chunk of the snow-covered roof to assess its quality.

Now they’re watching to see how the barn’s roof holds up under the weight and what happens to the basement when the snows finally melt.

“It was definitely more aggravating home shopping in this weather,” Madore said. “We climbed over snowbanks and icy, slippery steps. I brought my snow pants and boots to make sure I wasn’t deterred from making a full circle around the property.”

Corinne Fitzgerald, president of the Massachusetts Association of Realtors, said she won’t have a clear picture of the effect on home sales until figures come in around mid-March. But February, she noted, tends to be the slowest month anyway.

Nationally, sales of existing homes fell slightly in January, in part because of the severe cold and snowy weather in New England and other parts of the country, according to Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, a market forecasting firm. He said February data should show further declines.

Real estate agents said many sellers appear to be waiting until the weather clears to put their homes on the market, meaning a potentially busy spring. But winter can also hold certain opportunities.


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Will Neverland Ranch Become a Rehab Center for Abused Kids? | North Salem Real Estate

138250593.jpgPhotos by Getty

Neverland Ranch, the 2,700-acre abandoned fantasyland built by late King of Pop Michael Jackson, recently went up for auction and bidders have beencoming forward with varied visions for its future. Among these proposals are offers to turn the place into a Jackson shrine, à la Elvis’ Graceland, and one plan to transform the estate into a sexual assault rehab center for children.

After purchasing the property in 1988, Jackson souped it up with amusements like a roller coaster, a Ferris wheel, a train, horse stables, and movie theaters—most of which are gone by now. After the singer’s death in 2009, Neverland fell into the hands of real estate investment firm Colony Capital, which has valued the property at $75M and is now fielding buyers’ offers.

According to Page Six, the local businessman who proposed turning Neverland into a rehab center offered somewhere around $40M. He envisions having trained therapists treat victims through equine-assisted therapy.

1326613.jpgPhoto via Getty Images

Two bidders, one of whom already has a huge collection of the singer’s memorabilia, want to create a Michael Jackson shrine. But one source close to the sale process tells Page Six that’s an unlikely outcome, since Jackson’s estate executors will have to grant permission to use his likeness. Plus, Neverlands’ narrow mountain roads aren’t conducive to what could be thousands of visitors a year.


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